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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

RG Snyman © Gallo Images

Snyman to lead Bulls with Pollard out



Springbok lock RG Snyman will captain the Vodacom Bulls in their final Vodacom Super Rugby outing this weekend against the Emirates Lions, as injuries forced some last minute changes to the Bulls team.

Last week’s captain Handre Pollard, the Springbok no.10, has been rested after struggling with a back injury following the team’s win last week against the Jaguares, while regular captain Burger Odendaal is still on the sidelines with injury.

Mitchell made five changes to the side for the last game of the season, while deciding to blood three new youngsters for their first Super Rugby caps off the bench in an effort to increase the depth in the squad.

“At the end of the day with Handre out and Burger out, it was just important to create the right balance with our experienced players. RG is well-liked and well-respected, and is also accepted and has demonstrated consistent performances in the past year. It is also nice to have a captain that is closer to the referee. Jesse (Kriel) is a strong leader in the backline and has been very consistent as well,” he said.

Mitchell has given starts to a new halfback combination of Springbok Ivan van Zyl and flyhalf Manie Libbok, while on the wing Travis Ismaiel replaces Divan Rossouw.

In the pack, the calf injury to Jason Jenkins means that Jannes Kirsten moves from seven flank to lock, while Thembelani Bholi moves into the flank position. Ruben van Heerden, who played in Jenkins’ absence and was replaced after 22 minutes, is not in the matchday 23.

“Ivan is the best scrumhalf in the club and he deserves to come back in. And Jason (Jenkins) is out with injury. We have a number of injuries and we have three debutants on the bench,” Mitchell said.

“Every outing for Manie is important. I said to him he is almost like a first year uni student, at first year level. It is important for him to develop and learn, wait for his minutes and not to be impatient. And like any young flyhalf your biggest challenge is not so much what they possess in terms of skills and athleticism, but more game management and I guess that is an area both him and Embrose, who have exceptional talent, have to learn to manage the game and serve others, or put pressure on the opposition instead of just running it.”

The three youngsters that will get their first Super Rugby outing are hooker Johan Grobbelaar, lock Ruan Nortje and flyhalf Boeta Hamman, who will make their debuts if they come off the bench.

Mitchell believes the Lions will pose a massive challenge for a young side that has had depth problems of late.

“They are at the top for a reason, they are the best side in the conference and they are the benchmark in this country and have been for a while now, so it is really important for us to measure ourselves against them. Ultimately at the end of the day there is nothing better than playing at Ellis Park and playing in a derby, so yeah. What have they got at stake? They have the ability to finish at number one. And that probably gives them the ability to climb up in terms of the quarterfinal and where they are headed in the semifinal.”

Mitchell said the way they turn up in Johannesburg for the game will determine their performance.

“It’s important that we go in with an extremely positive mindset. We are well aware of how they have done, how they have trended in the competition and how important the game is for them. But what is important for us is to make sure that we finish off with a performance that we are actually very pleased with. We will have to be extraordinary on the weekend. This group will have to create something extraordinary in their performance and that is the challenge this weekend that is in front of us.

“It has nothing to do with closure, it is about the performance. How far that takes us against a good Lions side is something we cannot control. What we can control is turning up in an extremely positive mindset and having a crack.”

Snyman also urged his teammates to end the season well. "One can expect the Emirates Lions to come out firing as they have everything to play for. This will be a massive contest, a typical South African derby if you like. This gives us a proper opportunity to show what we stand for as a team one more time."

TEAM

15. Warrick Gelant, 14.Travis Ismaiel, 13.Jesse Kriel, 12.Johnny Kotze, 11.Jamba Ulengo, 10.Manie Libbok, 9.Ivan van Zyl, 8.Hanro Liebenberg, 7.Thembelani Bholi, 6.Marco van Staden, 5.RG Snyman (Captain), 4.Jannes Kirsten, 3.Conraad van Vuuren, 2.Jaco Visagie, 1.Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: 16.Johan Grobbelaar, 17.Matthys Basson, 18.Mornay Smit, 19.Ruan Nortje, 20.Nick de Jager, 21.Embrose Papier, 22.Boeta Hamman, 23.Divan Rossouw.



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